6 posts categorized "Movies" Feed

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

DahlI learned via and email from Random House this morning that today is Roald Dahl day, a day to celebrate mischief and mayhem (image to the left is from Random House). How appropriate for a Friday the 13th. The email urges us to "Visit the official Roald Dahl site for ways to celebrate in your classroom or library and learn about the man behind the stories: www.roalddahlday.info." 

But personally, I just want to talk about my two favorite Dahl stories:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the first Roald Dahl book that I ever read, and I love it to this day. It both captures the childhood imagination and contains biting satire. Such a perfect blend! When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I learned to type. I practiced by copying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, sitting at the desk in my basement bedroom. I don't remember being bored for even a moment. Who wouldn't love (in regards to TV):

Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY...USED...TO...READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!

(You can read the full poem at the RoaldDahlFans.com site.)

Although it is somewhat different from the book (particularly the songs), I also love the movie. The original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder, of course, not the travesty of an unnecessary remake. What child of the 70's doesn't occasionally find herself humming: "Oompa loompa doompety-doo". (Full song lyrics here, if you want them.) And who hasn't dreamed of the chocolate waterfall?

My other favorite Dahl story is Matilda. I'll even go so far in Matilda's case as to say that the movie may be better than the book. But the book is lovely, too. My favorite part of the movie is when young Matilda visits the library, and sits there and reads and reads. The image of this tiny person waiting for the walk light so that she can be with the books that are as necessary as breathing, well, of course it resonates.

My husband and I have already introduced the movie to our three year old daughter. We were a bit worried that she would find it scary, but I think (and this is the beauty of Dahl) that it is so over-the-top that she finds it hilarious. She loves the part where the indifferent parents throw the baby seat loose into the back of the station wagon, so that it careens all over place. I think that witnessing the terrible parents that DeVito and Perlman bring to life so well makes her feel more satisfied with her own life. Or something. 

But for me, Matilda is special because we share the eternal love of books, and the knowledge that books can take you anywhere. Happy Roald Dahl Day! (And than you Random House for the idea for this post.)

What are your favorite Dahl books? What will you do to celebrate Roald Dahl Day?

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Movie Rights Acquired by Universal

SMOKE-BONE_240Yay for Laini Taylor! Although I don't normally post much movie news on my blog, Laini is my friend, and I was thrilled to see the word this morning at Waking Brain Cells that the film rights to Daughter of Smoke and Bone have been acquired by Universal. You can read the Entertainment Weekly exclusive story here, and you can read my review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone here. Actually, here is the conclusion from my review:

"Daughter of Smoke and Bone is highly recommended for fans of young adult fantasy, or anyone who would like to be immersed in an epic love story. There are plenty of other paranormal romance novels out there, but Daughter of Smoke and Bone stands apart, with glowing prose, unusual characters, and three-dimensional world-building."

Apparently, Universal thinks that Daughter of Smoke and Bone stands apart, too. So nice when good things happen to good people. Now if they would only make movie versions of Laini's Dreamdark books...

Review Reissue: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Nick and Norah's Infinite PlaylistIn light of the recent release of the MOVIE, I've decided to republish my review of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. This book won the 2006 Cybils Award for Young Adult Fiction. (Hmmm ... is this the first of many Cybils winners that will be made into a major motion picture? And can I just point out that I said in my review way back when that it would make a good movie?). Anyway, here's the review, unchanged:

"I have to admit that the premise of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, never grabbed me. I knew that it was a story told in alternating chapters about a high school boy and girl who meet while clubbing in New York, with lots of profanity, and lots of music references. Well, I'm not very into music, I'm not a huge fan of New York, and the alternating boy-girl chapters seemed gimmicky. So I didn't read it, despite the positive reviews.

But then it was shortlisted in the Cybils Young Adult Fiction category. I have a lot of faith in the good taste of the nominating committee (tremendous and thoughtful readers all). So I ordered a copy from Amazon. But I still wasn't that interested, so it sat in my "to read" stack for two months. And then the judging committee, another set of careful readers who know their young adult literature, picked it as the winner. So I said, ok, fine, I'll read the book.

And it's great! Yes, it's set in the late night music/club scene in New York. But that's not what it's about. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is about what it feels like to meet that special someone, and be interested right away, while having doubts, and baggage, and difficulties that get in the way. All compressed into a zany time period of one very long night. It reminded me a little bit of the movie Dazed and Confused, and I can totally see it working as a movie.

Through the alternating chapters, we explore this falling in love from both sides. We see each person's doubts, and how the other is perceiving him or her at the same time. It's a bit confusing sometimes - I had to stop and think "who's talking now?", because both narratives are written in the first person. But mostly it works.

I wouldn't recommend this title for younger kids, or for people who are easily offended by profanity or sex. The "f" word features very prominently, and there are some pretty overt (though not not unduly graphic) sexual references. And yet, if you can get past that, the two main characters are actually quite straight-laced. They don't drink, they don't do drugs, and they both want stable, monogamous relationships. I think that the language is the authors' way of keeping Nick and Norah, especially Nick, from being too good to be true.

There's poetry in some of the text, too. And not just when Nick or Norah is thinking about song lyrics. Here is an early throwaway line describing Nick shifting gears from performer to person taking down band equipment: "I go from chords to cords, amped to amps." And here's Norah, musing on her own upbringing:

My parents have also done me the misfortune of being happily married for a quarter century, which no doubt dooms my own prospects of ever experiencing true love. Gold is not struck twice.

I love that. "Gold is not struck twice." There's also David's description of moving through the crowd at a club, holding Norah's hand:

The crowd is pressing in on us and the bassline is revealing everything and we are two people who are part of a lot more people, and at the same time we're our own part. There isn't loneliness, only this intense twoliness.

I love that, too. "Twoliness." The language aside, what makes this book special is the way that the authors are able to capture those feelings and insecurities that teenagers have when they first fall for each other, especially the feeling of euphoria. I could cite dozens of examples. But I'll limit myself to three:

Nick stands up and offers me his hand. I have no idea what he wants, but what the hell, I take his hand anyway, and he pulls me up on my feet, then presses against me for a slow dance and it's like we're in a dream where he's Christopher Plummer and I'm Julie Andrews and we're dancing on the marble floor of an Austrian terrace garden. (Norah, page 55)

If Caroline was here, she'd give me her Patience, Grasshopper speech. But she's not, and I am left to wonder on my own: How does this work, the getting to know a new guy without revealing too much desperation for his undivided attention? (Norah, page 68)

No--when the rain falls you just let it fall and you grin like a madman and you dance with it, because if you can make yourself happy in the rain then you're doing pretty alright in life. (Nick, page 156)

While most aren't as fully fleshed out as Nick and Norah, several of the other characters are intriguing. Tris, Nick's painfully recent ex-girlfriend, turns out to be more multi-dimensional than she seems at first. Norah's dad is a high-powered record executive, but also reveals himself to be a caring father and loving husband. There's also a cross-dressing Playboy bunny/bouncer and a gay playboy band member who each offer words of wisdom to Nick. One thing that I really like about this book is the way that the sexuality of the gay and cross-dressing characters is treated completely matter-of-factly by both Nick and Norah.

So, here's what I have to say about Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. It doesn't matter if you're not into music, or you aren't interested in the New York club scene. It doesn't matter if you're male or female, gay or straight. If you've ever met someone and been interested in them from the first glance, or if you've ever wondered what it would be like to meet someone and click right away, you should read this book. It's a perfect read for young adults. And for the censors who might fear that the language in the book will be a bad influence on kids, I say, "they have heard these words before." And maybe the straight-laced, non-drinking Nick and Norah, high on meeting each other, will have a positive influence instead."

Book: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Author: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. See also the Nick and Norah website.
Publisher: Knopf
Original Publication Date: May 2006
Pages: 192
Age Range: 14 and up
Source of Book: Purchased it. This book is the winner of the Cybils award for Young Adult Fiction.
Other Blog Reviews (as of Feb. 2007): Booktopia, Tea Cozy, Merideth's Books, Original Content, Little Willow, bookshelves of doom, LibrariAnne, Kids Lit, ReadyingYA: Readers' Rants, Sara's Hold Shelf
See Also: Other books you might like if you like Nick and Norah, at Sara's Hold Shelf

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.

Two Movies from Children's Books

This week I saw, and enjoyed, two movies based on children's books. I thought that Bridge to Terebithia was wonderful. I cried a bit towards the end, but that's to be expected. I thought that AnnaSophia Robb was luminous as Leslie, and that Bailee Madison (as May Belle) stole most of the scenes that she was in. I could have done without quite so much visualization of the fantasy elements, especially at the very end, but it's a minor quibble.

I also watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix yesterday. I thought that it was a good movie, but I regretted seeing it so soon after having re-read the book. It's the one that's most different from the book so far, I think, which is perhaps inevitable given the length of the book. But Evanna Lynch was perfect as Luna Lovegood. And I have to say that Alan Rickman makes the already fascinating character of Snape ever more intriguing with every installment.

What movies from children's books have you seen recently?

New Eloise DVDs

I received an email about this press release today from M80 marketing company, and thought that readers might be interested:

ME, ELOISE and ELOISE: LITTLE MISS CHRISTMAS will be available on DVD October 10, 2006.

TROY, MI (September 21, 2006) – I am Eloise. I am six. I live at The Plaza. Get ready for action-packed adventure at New York's Plaza hotel with the launch of the first-ever animated "Eloise" series with the DVD releases of two titles: ME, ELOISE and ELOISE: LITTLE MISS CHRISTMAS. Starz Media presents, in association with Handmade Films, produced by Film Roman, a Starz Company, will be releasing these first two titles in the series on DVD in stores October 10, 2006 (pre-order date August 30) with a suggested retail price of $14.98 each. The new releases feature fun eye-catching foil packaging and tons of cool DVD extras.

Based on the best-selling children's book series by Kay Thompson and breathtaking illustrations by Hilary Knight, ME , ELOISE and ELOISE: LITTLE MISS CHRISTMAS feature the classic animated six year-old, Eloise, as the unofficial reigning princess of New York's Plaza Hotel who lives a life many children would envy. Imagination runs wild and being bored is never allowed, in these long-awaited adventures.

Directed by Wes Archer (The Simpsons, King of the Hill), the new ELOISE series features the star-studded voice over talent of Golden Globe winner* Lynn Redgrave (Georgy Girl, Shine ), Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Annie), Matthew Lillard (She's All That, Scooby Doo), Curtis Armstrong (Revenge of the Nerds), and the talented up and coming young actress, Mary Matilyn Mouser as Eloise.

In ME, ELOISE, it is Eloise's sixth birthday, and she is determined to make it a special party. Along with planning her big day, Eloise is busy making friends with a new girl at the hotel - a Japanese violin prodigy named Yuko. Of course, things don't go as planned and Eloise almost misses her own party!

More details and a video clip are available here and here.